Friday, February 02, 2007

Man is subject to his own free choice

Sacred Scripture states in the Book of Sirach, "When God, in the beginning, created man, he made him subject to his own free choice." (Sir 15:14)

Yet, some Protestants deny that humans have free will.

One such Protestant claimed...
"the idea that humans have freewill is a notion superimposed upon the Bible and borrowed from Greek philosophy."
Nonetheless, Sacred Scripture is filled with references to the freewill of man.

For example, the Hebrew word, nedabah {ned-aw-baw'}, means:
1) voluntariness, free-will offering a) voluntariness b) freewill, voluntary, offering

God said, "I will love them freely (Heb nedabah)." (Hosea 14:4). Is this not the free will of God? Humans also act freely (Heb nedabah ) throughout Scripture.

For instance:

Ex 35:29 - "The children of Israel brought a willing (Heb nedabah) offering unto the LORD."
Ezra 3:5 - "... every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD. "

Other references to free will in Sacred Scripture...

Gen 2:16-17 - you are free to eat from any of the trees
Gen 4:7 - urge to sin can be mastered
Dt 12:6, 17; 16:10 - freewill offerings
Dt 23:23 - vow freely to the Lord
1 Chron 29:9 - given freely to the Lord
1 Chron 31:14 - freewill offerings
Ezra 1:4, 6; 2:68; 7:16; 8:28 - freewill offerings
Ezra 7:15 - freely given to God
Dt 30:19 - I have set before you life and death...choose life
Ex 36:3 - freewill offerings morning after morning
Lev 7:16; 22:18, 21, 23; 23:28 - freewill offering
Num 15:3; 29:39 - freewill offerings
Jos 24:15 - choose for yourselves whom you will serve ... as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord
Psalm 54:6 - freewill offerings
Prv 1:24 - I called, and you refused
Prv 1:29 - chose not to fear the Lord
Prv 8:10 - choose my instructionPrv 16:16 - choose understanding
Is 41:24 - he who chooses false gods is detestable
Is 56:4 - choose what pleased Me
Hos 8:3-4 - rejected what is good, chose princes without God's approval
1 Kgs 18:21 - how long will you hesitate before choosing
Ez 18:23, 31f, 33:11 - I rejoice when you turn from evil; make for yourself a new heart & spirit; Jn 7:17 - If anyone chooses to do God's will ...
Mt 23:37 - I yearned to gather you but you were unwilling
Lk 13:34 - I yearned to gather you but you were unwilling
Acts 7:51- you always oppose the Holy Spirit
Jam 4:4 - who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God
1 Pet 4:3 - doing what pagans choose to do
1 Cor 8:9 - exercise of your freedom should not become stumbling block to the weak
Gal 5:13 - called to be free; do not use your freedom to indulge in sin
Eph 3:12 - approach God with freedom
1 Pet 2:16 - live as free men; do not use freedom as a coverup for evil

Calvinist scholar R.L. Dabney, speaking of Calvin, Thomas, and Augustine wrote:
"Calvin also found the same doctrines handed down by the best, most learned, most godly, uninspired church fathers, as Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas..." (R.L. Dabney, The Five Points of Calvinism)

I find it unconvincing that Calvin had much agreement with Aquinas and Augustine, particularly with regard to free will.

According to St. Thomas Aquinas:

It is written (Sircah 15:14) "God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel"... I answer that, Man has free-will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards, and punishments would be in vain.... forasmuch as man is rational is it necessary that man have a free-will. (Summa Theologica, I, 83, 1)

According to St. Augustine:
... But those who do not belong to this number of the predestinated ... [some] receive the grace of God, but they are only for a season, and do not persevere; they forsake and are forsaken. For by their free will, as they have not received the gift of perseverance, they are sent away by the righteous and hidden judgment of God (De Correptione et Gratis, Ch. 42)

If, however, being already regenerate and justified, he relapses of his own will into an evil life, assuredly he cannot say, "I have not received," because of his own free choice to evil he has lost the grace of God, that he had received. (ibid, ch 9)

Thus, the Scriptural view, and the view of Catholics, Orthodox, and most Protestants is that man does indeed have free will.

Every man is given grace from God sufficient to become justified and attain everlasting life, if only they used the good gift of free will and the grace given by God as God intended them.

From a Catholic perspective, all mankind have Christ as their King, and each and every person in various ways belong to Christ's Church. St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of this "belonging" as being either potential or actual. “Those who are unbaptized, though not actually in the Church, are in the Church potentially. And this potentiality is rooted in two things--first and principally, in the power of Christ, which is sufficient for the salvation of the whole human race; secondly, in free-will.” (Summa Theologica, III, 8, 3).

God bless,